With all the excitement surrounding Steam Machines this year, it’s easy to forget about the controversal "Steam Box" from last year's CES. As a reminder, in January 2013, Xi3 unveiled its Piston console, along with the news that the company had received an initial investment from Valve, indicating the Piston’s position as a Steam Machine. However, in March, Valve announced that it claimed no involvement with Xi3, sending ripples of confusion and drama throughout the industry.
Valve have distanced themselves from Xi3's Piston, the small form modular PC that's now available for a pricey pre-order. Piston was originally revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where Xi3 announced that they had received an investment from Valve. But in a statement to Eurogamer, Doug Lombardi states they're no acting as the mini-PC's benefactor.
It's not the "Steam Box", but Piston - Xi3's living-room friendly small form PC - is a box with Steam in it. Technically all PCs have the potential to be boxes with Steam in them, but most aren't designed both specifically for gaming and to fit in the palm of your hand. In fact, I've just attempted to lift my PC with one hand and now my fingers hurt.
At this weekend's SXSW Gaming Expo, Xi3 unleashed pre-orders of the device. It's a pricey proposition: $899.99 gets you the base version, with 8GB RAM and a 128GB internal solid state hard drive. And that's the special SXSW price. When the expo ends on March 17th, the standard cost of $999.99 takes effect.
In a BBC interview ahead of last night's BAFTA Game Awards, Gabe Newell revealed that prototypes of Valve's "Steam Box," their planned living-room friendly PC, could be ready to ship to customers within the next three to four months.
"We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it," Newell said. "We'll be giving out some prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, I guess, in the next three to four months."
Graham, Chris and Marsh discuss Kentucky Route Zero, Dark Souls, Deus Ex and more in the latest episode of the PC Gamer UK podcast. Also featuring Increpare's Slave of God, NVidia Project Shield, Piston and your questions from Twitter.